Tuesday, August 27, 2013
While crossing the street, a guy asks two girls whom he does not know in passing, "Wanna get damn near naked?"
He gets giggles in response. Not "Grow up." Not disgust. Not outrage. Giggles. Apparently his behavior is acceptable.
Crickets and other flying, creeping things that make noise in the night. Stirring, fussing, arguing, buzzing, singing. I had not noticed them here before.
A group of guys, followed by a straggler with a wardrobe malfunction.
"Wait up! Dude, my pants ripped."
"Hey, just use that as an excuse to get laid."
Apparently this is funny and acceptable.
More flying, creeping things that make noise in the night. I return "home", tired.
Monday, August 26, 2013
Saturday, August 24, 2013
Seen Friday August 16th: The Butler
What I don't like about this movie: Nothing that needs to be expounded upon.
Would I recommend it?: Absolutely!
Wednesday, August 21, 2013
Friday, August 16, 2013
I'm learning that the answer to that question is: Yes and no.
Cut to my yoga class Wednesday evening. While kicking our behinds in that 85°F room, out of
nowhere our teacher started talking about cravings, which are connected to habits. He said that oftentimes what people crave isn't the habit itself, but what they get from the habit (how it makes them feel, etc.). Once you get to the root of the craving and figure out what it is that you're seeking, you can change the habit.
Cut then to Wednesday night, my first trip to the grocery store since returning to the States. Walking along the aisles and picking from amongst the foods that were on display, I was reminded of my time in Japan. I firmly believe that going to Japan was one of the best things I've ever done, one reason being that it changed my relationship with food. I already mentioned a few weeks ago how my eating habits changed: fewer starches, more fruits and vegetables, more protein, little dairy, little snacking, no junk food, a lot more water, fresher food and smaller portions overall. On top of that, I wasn't thinking about food all the time, and I learned that I didn't need certain foods like I'd thought I did before. During those two months I was eating better than I've ever eaten in my life.
Since coming back, I've realized that now I literally cannot eat the way I used to eat anymore. My body will not take it. I don't think the same thoughts or feel the same emotions when I try eating what I used to eat. I eat some foods and feel heavy and sad; I get nauseous or even gag a little. Things taste worse and look less appetizing than I remember. Portions are bigger than I remember. I can walk away from food a little easier than I remember. It's like I've become a different person.
Being in that grocery store also made me recall the foods I hated but grew to enjoy (or tolerate) in just the past year: tomatoes, sweet tea, cherries, ginger, avocados, hummus, (beans), (cilantro), (olives). When I was younger I reserved lifetime spots on my "Never gonna like it" list for these foods. Now I can eat them with little to no hesitation. My tastes changed, and I didn't even have to try that hard to make it happen. I let it happen.
I write all of this to say that I'm beginning to understand something really important about food: People have control over the basic action of eating, but not everyone has control over the practice of eating like they should. I think this is due to having limited options, and/or being stagnated by habits that don't serve them. Some folks have been divested of control over what they eat, and they don't even realize it. As people grow older, their tastes change along with them. And as people start examining their habits, the way they think and feel about food should change as well. So don't be afraid to try new foods and take a good discerning look at exactly how and what you're eating. That's how you regain control.
You might think as you read this, What does this fat chick know, trying to speak wisdom about food? And you'd be justified in thinking such a thing. Given the predicament that I'm in, I don't really have any right to lecture anyone on nutrition. But I can share what I'm learning, and I'm learning that everyone needs to ask themselves this question from time to time:
Do I have control over what I eat?
Tuesday, August 13, 2013
[You are not your thoughts. Notice them, but don't let them consume you.]
"Discomfort is where the magic happens."
[Don't always try to avoid feeling discomfort.]
"Letting sensation guide you rather than the mind, you will never be injured. You will never be disappointed."
[Your body knows what it needs. Feeling is the gateway to the present.]
Sunday, August 11, 2013
"Girl, you don't eat enough to keep a fly alive."
"I do eat."
"No you don't."
"I know what you were doing over there in that Japan."
"What was I doing, Grandpa?"
"Not eating, that's for sure."
This is what I deal with every 3-4 months.
Friday, August 9, 2013
My best friend Morgan also introduced me to this group. Initially I didn't get what the big deal was about them, but they grew on me and now theirs is one of my favorite channels on YouTube. Dormtainment is a troupe of 6 fine, black, intelligent young men who know how to clown and make people laugh. They started as college students, thus the name "Dormtainment". The content they make is relatable to different types of people, but they don't act like coons just for the sake of views, and I respect them for that. They're all actors, but some write, some sing, some rap, some produce music, some do stand-up, etc. Because these men have varied talents, they also put out mixtapes and music videos in addition to making hilarious sketches. Oh and did I mention that they're fine? Rome's my favorite, in case anyone cares to know. He stars in one of their latest sketches, "I Saw My Friend's Girl Naked".
I'd heard about this channel a while ago, but I didn't pay it any attention until Issa Rae aired "Roomieloverfriends" on her channel (this is a series that she and Black&Sexy are collaborating on). I thought that with such a forward title, this channel's content might be tawdry. But after giving it a shot, I found that Black&Sexy TV has some of the most well-written and well-acted content that I've seen on Youtube. Its series' portray friendships and relationships in a relatable manner. Most importantly, it represents black people in an honest way without ridiculing us. Below is the first episode of "Roomieloverfriends".
"The Unwritten Rules"
Presented by inkSpotEntertainment, this brilliant series follows one young black college grad as she discusses her frustrations with being the only black co-worker in her office. I've never had a real job so I can't say that I relate to the premise completely. But I definitely experience similar situations being the only black student (or one of few black students) in my classes at school. "the Unwritten Rules" makes clear its purpose of discussing issues of race, especially relations between black and white people (the main characters name is Racy, after all). The reason why I love this show so much and call it brilliant is that it challenges prejudice, ignorance, and white privilege without pretense or apology, while still managing to be lighthearted and funny. Here's the first episode, "First Day", to get you started.
Thursday, August 8, 2013
I started watching the Playmakers about a year ago. A trio made of Ant Davis and brothers Kevin and Jason Fredericks, the Playmakers are what you might call a group of "Christian comedians". Their jokes are clean, but these guys are not in the least but lame or uptight. They make fools out of themselves in the name of Jesus! They're honest, and certainly not afraid to poke fun at Christians or the church from time to time. They gained such a following that they caught the attention of Tracey Edmonds and got a deal with Alright TV, a channel that aims to revolutionize Christian/family-friendly entertainment. Some of the Playmakers' newer videos have also been aired on that channel. Here's their latest video, "Shouting with Strangers".
This is Kevin Fredericks' personal channel where he uploads his own content. He's an ordained minister and a married father of two young sons, and sometimes his family appears in his videos. In fact, his sons are actor-comedians as well! In addition to doing sketches, talking about his family and sharing his opinion on current trends and events, KevonStage also answers viewers' questions and gives them advice about living a Christian life and dealing with struggles in a Godly way. Here's one of his latest videos, "Every Thing is Racist", where he makes fun of conscious black folks who see racism in everything.
I was introduced to Issa Rae by my best friend Morgan, who showed me the web series "The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl" for the first time over a year ago. This series, which draws inspiration from Issa Rae's own life, is about a young black woman's struggle to fit in in the workplace, figure out who she is, and maneuver the difficulties of dating and relationships. It's also what put Issa Rae on the map, making her a well-known actor/writer/director on the internet. She's become so successful that she's started transitioning from the internet to television, writing for or starring in upcoming shows. She does her best to maintain her internet presence of course, and her YouTube channel has a lot of goodies in addition to ABG. My personal favorites are "Rachetpiece Theater" and "Roomieloverfriends". Here's the first episode of ABG to get you started.
I've still got three more YouTubers to talk about, so be sure to check out part 2!
Tuesday, August 6, 2013
Though I started writing this post in June, I hesitated about whether I wanted to publish it or not. But once I returned to the States, realized I wasn't in a dream anymore, and really started reflecting on things that happened to me while I was in Japan, I felt like it was necessary for me to put this out. One of the reasons I started this blog was so that I could learn to be more honest about my thoughts and feelings. Therefore, this is an honest experience that I must share.
Most of the students at JCMU were white. I can only speak for myself, but it's been my experience that most white people don't tend to be very conscious of their ignorance, nor of the underlying meanings of the words they say. (Granted, this can be said of all people to some extent, but for the sake of this post we'll just stick to white people for now.) I offer the following conversations as prime examples.
Male classmate C: For your sake, I hope your host family's not afraid of black people.
So... quiet + motivated + respectful + considerate + speaks "proper" English +intelligent + disciplined = not black = white. Whatever. Is that supposed to be a compliment? You don't even realize how much of an insult that is. "I know you're black, but you don't act like other black people, the real black people, the bad black people, the scary black people. Of course they'll like you, because you're basically white, which is better isn't it?" Listen. Just because, by coincidence, I happen to be more accessible to you than other black people are, that doesn't make me any less black and certainly doesn't mean you know what I'm about. I don't need your approval and I certainly don't want your honorary "white" card. That stupid thing would be useless anyway, because everyday I wake up, I'm black. Proudly, beautifully and unchangeably black. In case you hadn't noticed.
I don't even need to explain how this is wrong, now do I?
Oh really? You're just going to insult two entire ethnic peoples like that? First it's the whole "You're black and black people are scary, so naturally people would be afraid of you" BS. Then it's the "Most Japanese people haven't met a black person before, so they couldn't possibly have the human capacity to treat you with respect or try to get along with you. Besides, they'd be too shocked and scared" BS. You sir, have no idea what you're talking about.
Please know that the three people quoted above are probably good people. I say "probably" because I never got to know them enough to know for sure. I only have these three instances to write about because by the 2nd or 3rd week over there I realized that I wasn't interested in getting to know most of my fellow students on any level, and I kept my distance. This wasn't strictly because they were white. Although, I will admit that being in college has decreased my patience for dealing with white people, and sometimes that leads me to count them out before giving them a chance. I'm struggling to correct this, so please bear with me.
Also, I don't know these young people enough to call them racist, however one might define the term. But even "non-racist" people can say racist things and have racist thoughts. I write all of this not to attack these three individuals, but to give examples of wrong things that white people often say and don't realize are wrong. And whether they meant it that way or not, what these three said was wrong.
"Feeling is the gateway to the present. Thinking is not. You cannot thing your way into the present."
Monday, August 5, 2013
Hikone Castle a few weeks ago, and I said that there was a specific reason for doing that. Well meet Renee, my MSU bear. Renee wears a tie. While I was in Japan I was thinking of what I could get myself as a lasting reminder of my time there, and I figured why not get a pin to add to Renee's tie? I could make a tradition out of adding pins to mark my adventures abroad! I'm going to try to keep this up as I travel more.
It's bittersweet to think that this is my last "70 Days in Kansai" post. But I've returned from Japan, and it's only fitting that I end this series. On to the next one... after I get some sleep.
70 Days in Kansai photos (JULY/AUGUST) \
70 Days in Kansai photos (JUNE)
Sunday, August 4, 2013
I realize you're probably packing/getting ready for the trip back to the US right now, but I wanted to send a message before we leave this country.
It would've been probably a lot better if I had written this out by hand, so I apologize for that.
I wanted to thank you for all the conversations we were able to have and the experiences we shared! I know I can be pretty overbearing and admittedly quite loud at times, but you always put up with me. I want you to know that I really look up to you and your solidarity in pursuing your goals and keeping time for yourself. You were always so calm and collected (I know you're going to object to this, but I promise you it is true!!) and also confident in your abilities and yourself, and I think it really showed to everyone in this program. I could tell that you really believed in yourself, even when studying began to get the better of you, and I think this was apparent to everyone around you :)
Unlike a lot of people nowadays (and myself, I will also admit), I feel like you did things for a very pure reason - that it was right - than to please others or show off or et cetera.
I loved reading your blog, as you must know by me mentioning it all the time, and also talking to you about your experiences and future. I always admire people who know what they want in life. :) All the best of luck in France next year!!! It's early, but... never too early to wish good luck, I guess :)
Hopefully you get some much-deserved sleep tonight and have a safe trip tomorrow! :) let's keep in touch back in the US, ok? If you're not too busy solving the world's problems and becoming the next Crystal Kay, that is. ^_^
All the best,
Thank you, Ivy. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
The day started with JCMU's closing ceremony. A representative from each class level gave a speech, which of course meant I had to give one too. (I had the option not to make a speech, but it was presented to me in a "Well you don't have to do one, but we'd like it if you did" kind of way. So even though I agreed to do it, I didn't actually have a choice. But I figured hey, this is my last chance to use my Japanese for something important, so why not.) Everything went well. We received our certificates, the director gave a speech, student representatives gave their speeches, and that was it. Short and sweet. Afterward there was a "party" for staff, students, and host families to mingle together and celebrate the students' hard work. I was able to take pictures with all three of my senseis, so no I can finally introduce them to you!
Matsushima-sensei was the instructor in charge of the fourth level, so I spent most of my time with her. She teaches in New York City, is very cultured and has this chic, cool, sophisticated air about her, but she's also extremely approachable. I found her to be surprisingly patient and understanding, and during those times when our conversations digressed from the course material I was amazed by the fascinating things she had to say about cultural studies, film studies, and other topics and issues that she knows a lot about. Matsushima-sensei is one of the most fascinating people I've ever met. Even though being in a class by myself was extremely lonely at times, I'm thankful that I had the opportunity to learn from her.
Next is Melville-sensei, who taught reading comprehension. Melville-sensei is... something else. She's incredibly animated and is louder than most other Japanese women I've met. In class she would go from joking about something loudly to speaking in a low voice about something serious in a split second, and those highs and lows could be intimidating at times. She also likes to push people to think clearly and develop their ideas, which was often frustrating but proved beneficial to me. Once I got used to her, I realized that she is actually a really amiable person who wants her students to succeed.
After the party ended I went to my room to change my clothes, then hopped on my bike to go get one last look at Lake Biwa. While there I shot a vlog! And it's under 10 minutes! I'm getting better y'all.
Afterward I returned to JCMU to turn my bike and helmet in. Then eight of us students went to Viva City mall to eat at a restaurant called Family Viking. (In Japan, they call buffets "Viking" or "baikingu".) This place was an all-you-can-eat tofu buffet, so all the food was either made from tofu or had tofu in it. It was much more tasty than it sounds. In fact, it was fantastic! I wasn't much in the mood for eating though, so I only had two plates and dessert, but I enjoyed everything I did eat.
70 Days in Kansai photos (JUNE)
Honestly, I don't have much to say about Kaiyukan. The pictures, though not the clearest, will speak for themselves. I will say that I had a great time! I've loved animals ever since I was little, and watching them always puts me in a great mood. There's plenty to marvel at in Kaiyukan, so there's really no reason for anyone not to enjoy themselves here. And the ¥2300 ($23) ticket price certainly won't burn a hole in your pocket. If you're ever in Osaka, Kaiyukan is worth a visit!
Sorry if this post is a little anticlimactic. However, before I end this I'd like to share a couple encounters that I had with two Japanese women while I was in Osaka.
The first was on the train to Osakako (the station down the street from Kaiyukan). Most of the girls in my group were seated but I stood in the aisle. All of a sudden I felt someone tap me. I thought it might've been a little kid, but I turned around to see a middle-aged Japanese woman looking up at me from her seat.
Lady (in English): Where going?
Me (in Japanese): Excuse me?
Lady : Don't you speak English?
Me (in English): Yes, I do.
Lady : So, where going? Sea World?
Me (in Japanese): You mean Kaiyukan?
Lady (in Japanese): Oh, you understand Japanese. [Continues in English anyway] Next two stops, get off on right side.
Me (in Japanese): Got it. Thank you very much!
The second encounter occurred at Umeda Station. While heading back to Osaka Station I saw a Books Kinokuniya store out of the corner of my eye. I'd been looking for the same book for the past 3 days (Kyoufu Collection by Atouda Takashi), and I figured I'd give it another shot. It was after 9pm, but the enormous bookstore was still open and crowded. I found a computer kiosk to look up the book and though it took me a minute or two to figure out how to use the search engine, I got the hang of it. While I was at it some 30-something-year-old woman walked up and offered to help me. I thanked her and said I was fine, and she just nodded, smiled warmly and walked away. I know this doesn't sound all that spectacular. But this lady didn't work at the store, she was just another customer who could've passed me by without a thought like most Japanese people do. But she didn't, and that really surprised me in a good way. Oh, and unfortunately I never ended up finding that book.
My friend Fumiko told me that Kansai people are nicer than Kanto people, and that people in Osaka are the kindest of all. Maybe there was truth to what she said.
70 Days in Kansai photos (JULY/AUGUST) \
70 Days in Kansai photos (JUNE)
Friday, August 2, 2013
Granted, this was only my first time watching fireworks in Japan, but I have to say that American firework shows just do not compare. The ones I saw yesterday were much brighter and the colors were more vibrant. There was a greater variety of styles and the executions were sharper. And there were actual shapes and pictures! For example:
Some of the displays were so enormous that you couldn't see them in their entirety all at once. You had to scan from one end to the other to take all of it in. Then when they faded and the remaining fire fell toward the water, it was as one little Japanese boy near me put it, "雨みたいや!" (Ame mitai ya!/ "It looks like rain!"). The whole show was stunning. I took about 50 photos of the fireworks, so as usual follow the link below to see the rest!
70 Days in Kansai photos (JULY/AUGUST) \
70 Days in Kansai photos (JUNE)